Irwin and Missy Koenig's Cakes & More in Byram might be a tiny place, but the goodies baked in the kitchen come out big in flavor no matter whether you're picking up petit fours or wishing over the wedding cakes. Here's Missy's take on the classic Christmas gingerbread house.
Bake the Basics
"Molasses is what makes gingerbread that lovely shade of brown. And don't be fooled; molasses is what makes it taste so good, even with the ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. You start by baking your favorite gingerbread recipe. Let the pieces cool and become dry. You want to be able to hold them and not have them cave in, bend or flex. Then you make your royal icing from meringue powder (dried egg whites), powdered sugar and water. Glue the sides together with royal icing piped between the edges, followed by gluing on the roof and the chimney. Let this dry a minimum of eight hours; I like to wait 24 hours. You can store the icing in a Ziploc bag. Absolutely no grease should come in contact with the icing or the icing will break down."
"Using the icing, draw a design on the roof. My favorite is scallops with gumdrops. This adds color and makes it the prettiest part of the house. Don't forget to top it off with a chocolate Santa going down the chimney. Another pretty part is to use starlight candies or cinnamon disks to make a fence around the rim of the platter. You can put trees or fences in the yard in addition to sprinkling candies here and there. I like to use wrapped candies because it adds color. And the family can snack without damaging the house. Personalize your gingerbread house with your family's name in icing on the front. Using miniature gingerbread cookie cutters, you can create your own family in the yard."
Eat It or Keep It?
"Some people do eat their gingerbread houses—royal icing is edible—some people don't. It just depends on what you've decided to do. Some people save their houses, storing them in the attic. That depends on the moisture, though, because moisture weakens gingerbread. You know how humid it is around here. It should be a climate-controlled closet. And sometimes ants or bugs get to it. I've had people pull their cakes out and go, 'Oh, well. I'll just buy another one.'"
The gingerbread house pictured is 7x5x7 on a 14-inch diameter platter. $40. Call 601-502-2537 to reserve yours for pick-up no later than noon on Christmas Eve. 5610 I-55 S. East Frontage Road, Byram.